Today, I write.

I have been in hibernation this winter, hence the radio silence on the blog. I am allergic to the cold and struggle to be motivated when the air is cold, the wind is blowing, and I have to be rugged up in multiple layers. No, really I am allergic to the cold season, my skin goes into meltdown the minute the weather changes. My skin starts out really dry, and then changes into an eczema type skin condition on my neck, boobs, and stomach. It is crazy itchy, and it doesn’t matter what oil I put on it or how much a fill my gut with good bacteria like kombucha, yoghurt, green vegetables, bone broth, turmeric. The only thing that makes it disappear is spring.

Sunday morning we were at the beach, my husband truly believes in his soul that the ocean fixes everything, he was convinced that the salt water would fix my skin, and made me go for a dip in the ocean, in winter. The water didn’t fix my skin, but it livened me up. It was cold and gave me goose bumps, had my teeth chattering, and my extremities purple, heart racing, but so refreshing and cleansing. My husband and two boys frolicked in the ocean with me after their morning of surfing in wetsuits, laughing at me in my summer bikini.20170723_111225

I will back track a bit and explain how my husband made me go for a swim in the ocean, in winter and made me write today.

I have a little project that I am in the planning stages of. Anyone that reads my blog, knows that I have a categorgy called #sistertribe, where I interview women and post the interviews and photos on the blog. Well I want to expand that. I want to Interview more women and be paid for it. I have found a platform called Patreon that will facilitate this project. I have been planning and making notes and making lists of women that I want to chat to, I have been setting goals and researching and researching. To sum up, I am procrastinating.

Sitting at the football on Saturday, I put my foot down – I actually stamped my foot like a two year old, and told my husband that I would be doing more writing, that I am going to make this project work and I want his support. He looked at me like I had three heads. See he doesn’t at all, nor has ever, understood why I write, or post to a blog or want to interview women and post their stories.

“Honestly babe, I just don’t get it, it makes no sense to me. Why do people give a shit, why on earth would someone pay money to read about someone else? Why do they want to read about other people’s business? You tell me you want to do this, just do it. You want to write and talk to women, just do it! Not once have I ever told you can’t have or do something. It doesn’t make sense to me, but so what. Just because we are married, doesn’t mean I am going to agree with you 100% of the time. If you enjoy something, do it. Do not, however, hide yourself away in your office when we are all home, we need you and want you with us. Prove to people like me, that don’t understand what you do, that you can make it successful. That you can prove people wrong.”

At this point I didn’t know if I want to punch him in the face or kiss it. He kissed me, patted my leg and went back to watching our boy play football.

On our way to the beach on Sunday morning, my husband asked me, who are the women that I have on my wish list to interview. I told him about a woman from Northern Wales that is on my wish list, Natasha Brooks (please, please click on her name, it will direct you to her film), she swims in the mountain lakes there. Yes in northern Wales, where there is snow and temperatures below freezing, she swims naked. I want to interview her and ask her why, and find out her story. I told all of this to my husband. So by the time he had finished surfing and I had been sun baking/ sleeping in the winter sun, he leaned over me, dripping freezing water on me and said come for a swim.

“No, I am not swimming in that ocean today!”

“Northern wales this is not babe, it’ll fix your skin.”

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“Fine”.

 

Sitting at dinner that night we were going over our day like we usually do.

“So how much writing did you get done, while the boys and I went four wheel driving.”

My dear husband took our boys out to a local four wheel drive track for 4 hours after we came home from the beach, he text me at one point and said “we will be a while – write, do your thing while we are gone”.

“I washed and ironed clothes, washed the floor, carted wood upstairs for the fire, started dinner, baked muffins.”

“Not helping your cause babe”.

So today I write.

 

Day 55

Day 55.

We live outside of our local town, we are on an acre of land in a nice quiet street with neighbours that we don’t really see or hear. Further north is small farming areas mostly pineapples and strawberries when in season. We are only minutes from the Glass House Mountains as well. The daily school run takes me south of our home. The school boy 1 goes to is opposite the local public hospital – (the hospital that has a needle exchange vending machine at the front door), there is also the public primary and high school and a child care centre on the same block. The area where all of this is positioned has high density housing with mostly housing commission homes. That house very low socio economic families, most with little or no education. There are a lot of fast food outlets, and shopping centres that are full every day.  This area is well known for drugs, crime, and lots of social issues, the whole suburb has a bad reputation. Which is a shame as the area has a great library and art gallery, a University, my favourite little coffee shop – Double Brass, the markets on a Sunday are held at the show grounds, a Montessori school, and there is also the Queensland equestrian centre.

This morning when I was driving out of the school driveway a couple of teenagers dressed in the local public school uniform, walked across the drive way in front of my car. The girl was pregnant and the boy holding her hand was smoking. I wanted to yell out the car window, “your school is in the other direction, stop smoking, go to school and help your unborn kid out.” I didn’t of course.

I stopped in at the Woolies next door to the school and was nearly run over by a woman who is probably my age but 100 kilograms heavier. She was driving a motorised scooter and she was a hoon, loaded down with so much junk food it was actually kind of gross and would’ve been expensive.

 

End of day 55

Worked this afternoon and the area that I was working in resembled the Brisbane city watch house, drug addicts, arrest warrants, hand cuffs and prostitutes galore.

Had an argument with a nurse in the tea room when discussing a situation, and I said if I was out in a public place and a known IV drug user had overdosed on heroin and needed CPR, I would not offer to commence CPR until paramedics arrived on scene.

 

Day 43

Day 43

 

This afternoon, I am mourning the loss of my favourite pair of thongs. They broke this morning when I was reaching up to get in to my four wheel drive. I wore these black little pieces of rubber everywhere. I bought them at Seaworld on the Gold Coast when the boys and I were there celebrating the birthday of my besties boy three years ago.  They were instantly comfortable. They didn’t need wearing in like most of the cheaper types.  There was no blisters in between my big toe and my second toe and they fitted perfectly.

Those thongs had some stories to tell, they have walked in a mothers footsteps. I wore them every day for school drop off and pick up, grocery runs, they were at all most every Wednesday morning coffee, they went to majority of the Tuesday and Thursday cricket training and every Saturday cricket game. They have been to the hinterlands of the Gold coast, Sunshine coast and northern New South Wales. They have been on beaches from the top end of the Sunshine coast to the glorious beaches of Northern New South Wales. They have stepped in cow shit, and saved me from barb like thistles in the paddocks of my sisters property in south west Queensland.

They were worn with jeans and skirts, cute little shorts, and maxi dresses. I wore them with socks in winter. They went from being too big for my boys, to, too small for my boys.

I have just re-read this and can’t decide if I am deliriously tired after my 17 hr work day yesterday or a complete bogan for writing a post about a my favourite pair of thongs breaking.

End of day 43

Back to work, I tried to have a sleep earlier and the dog started howling and a bird was tapping on my bedroom window.

Did a search for book publishers, for when I go to Europe and write a book about it. Found a self-publishing option via Hay house called Balboa press.

Love the big tree in the feature photo.

Day 37

Day 37.

 

Holidays are coming to an end. We went this morning to the barber for back to school haircuts, my boys are looking very sharp.

 

I had to work this afternoon, my husband worked this morning, and boy 1 was at a friend’s house, so boy 2 had to come to work with me. So that I could hand him over to his father. As we headed down the highway, and saw all the bumper to bumper traffic heading north to the coast, for the last weekend of school holidays and the scheduled long weekend. I said to boy 2 “you and dad are going to have a long drive home”. “Yes this isn’t an economical use of my school holiday hours Mum.  I told you that I should’ve stayed at home.”  I burst out laughing, who knew that my 11 year old could put a sentence like that together. Yes he had nagged me to stay home and or go next door and play the play station.

 

Work this afternoon was incredibly slow, we figured that everyone was sitting on the highway and not in our waiting room.  I worked with some of my favourite work friends today.  When you work shift work, you form some very close relationships. Some very interesting conversations are had on slow shifts.  On a night shift at 2.00am absolutely no subject is off limits.  When you are eating Sunday dinner, with the same people that you had Saturday night dinner with, you have dinner conversation like you would at home with family.  When you spend the whole Easter weekend working the same shifts, with the same people you form a strong bond.  When someone asks for a shift swap so they can go to an event for their child or go camping with friends, because they have had to say no every other time, there is no hesitation in swapping.

 

Don’t get me wrong it is not always smooth sailing. However, I am very lucky with the core group of people that I work majority of shifts with. So this afternoon in between our work, we laughed and chatted seamlessly, we are all up to date on each other’s families.  We know what everyone is doing for the weekend, we spoke of travel plans, investment properties, and we emailed ideas to one of my colleagues sons, on what to buy his godson for a gift all the way from New York. We mother lectured one of the young girls on her weekend away camping with a group of friends and boy that she likes.  We sent loving and healing thoughts to a friend with cancer. We oohhed and ahhhed over baby photos.  We sipped tea in between filing charts and letters. We walked each other to the carpark. We had a goodnight.

 

End of day 37

 

No traffic left on the highway.

 

Grateful to have healthy family and friends.

Day 23

Carpooled with hubby today. That means I am an hour and a half early for my shift. He starts at 230pm amd I start at 3.00pm, the department he works for has an unwritten agreement, that the boys get to work early and all sit around like old women and have
a chat, share the gossip and then let the previous shift go home early. 

I definitely, do not have that unwritten rule in the department I work in, it doesn’t matter if I am 5min early or an hour early. Start and finish times are set. Most of the time I stroll in 5 minutes early with my cuppa in hand, a smile on my face and
get handover.

Yesterday I put my foot down and told him I was driving myself to work. I had zero desire to sit around in the tea room for an extra hour and a half.  I got caught up  writing yesterday’s blog post, hanging washing and getting ready for work. Then the
dog came flying up our back stairs, as I was straightening my hair, and I burnt a tiny bit of my hairline as my about 60 kilogram dog slammed into my legs, because he heard a clap of thunder. This turn of events didn’t bode well for me being able to leave
for work on time.  After much love and trying to get him to unattach himself from my legs. I finally got him down stairs and onto his bed, so I could leave for work. 

“I would have a heart attack, couldn’t handle walking in that late” was the reply text message I got from my husband as I was walking into work at 2.56pm.  

End of day 23

My husband thanked me for carpooling with him, said he enjoyed our chat to work. 

Have typed this whole blog post on my phone. In the work tea room. While eating extra hot wings crinkle cut chips, that burnt my mouth, and then I burnt my mouth more when I tried to skull my coffee, to stop the burn from the chip’s . Listening to Doctor’s diagnosing/debating what is wrong
with a patient, that fell down a hill and now has abdo pain, on a show playing on the tv that takes up nearly whole wall in the tea room.

Day 20

Day 20

Working where I work really shit me today. It wasn’t a busy day at all, but the people that I had to deal with today just pushed my buttons.  I walked out of working wanting to tell some of them not to think they are so entitled. I wanted to tell one particular person to be responsible for their own shit and that not everything can be fixed by someone else, and to make better bloody choices. (like don’t inject so much ice every day that you don’t know who the father of your kid is, because you don’t recall what happens most days. I mean for fucks sake).

I had big plans for when I got home today, because my husband took boy 1 to cricket training and then work and I had the house to myself until about 5.15pm. Only thing that I got done was 1 load of washing.  I made myself a cuppa and sat down to watch a TED talk.  I love TED, each and every talk that I have listened to, I have learnt something or been inspired or motivated.  Today I chose a talk about telling stories. Dave Isay this was the man presenting the TED talk and this blurb sucked me in:

Dave Isay opened the first StoryCorps booth in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in 2003 with the intention of creating a quiet place where a person could honor someone who mattered to them by listening to their story. Since then, StoryCorps has evolved into the single largest collection of human voices ever recorded. His TED Prize wish: to grow this digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity. Hear his vision to take StoryCorps global — and how you can be a part of it by interviewing someone with the StoryCorps app.

This 21 minute talk had me glued to my chair. This is exactly what I am trying to do with my #mesistertribe.  Obviously I don’t have the resources to head to New York’s Grand Central Terminal, and chat to people. But I am having a ball interviewing and listening to awesome women and their stories. Can’t wait for Friday to publish my next interview. This talk was definitely a motivating talk for me. Some of the examples that he showed where raw, and honest and I was amazed at the information that people felt safe in sharing. These traits are also what I have noticed when I have been interviewing, I have felt honored and humbled and privileged with some of the information that has been shared with me. I so look forward to sharing more on the blog.

End of day 20.

I am finding taking a picture (selfie) a day for the feature photo for each blog post, as confronting and challenging as my writing challenge.

Looking forward to a big day tomorrow.

Day 18

Day 18

I had a private message from boy 2’s best friend’s mum,  letting me know that he was an awesome friend to her daughter today and it was very much appreciated. I thought that she must be having a tough as he gave her his last avocado, he does not share avocado with anyone. But he made her guacamole at school for morning tea to cheer her up.  I mean really that is his definition of being a good friend.

So this afternoon at 4.20pm I get a call from my husband to say that my firstborns, first day of work was supposed to be today and the manager had just called to find out where our kid was.

Well panic followed this phone call. My boy is a stressor, he stresses for days and days about new things he has to do, or events that are coming up. So imagine the hysteria this afternoon. I found the number of his workplace and told him to ring and apologise and say that you are on your way.  He was as white as a sheet, but called them and told them he was on his way.  He literally threw on his uniform that his about 3 sizes too big (it was the smallest size I could order). I had 7 phone calls and 15 text messages (not joking just counted them) from my husband stressing about the whole situation, I had my highly strung kid who was completely frazzled and freaking out about being late for work and worse than that, not knowing he had a shift. This was all happening as I am trying to drive said kid to his new job, in peak hour traffic. He barely let me stop the car and he was running in the door.

Came back three and a half hours later to pick him up and he was completely high, did not stop talking the whole way home, he didn’t stop talking while eating dinner, and was yelling out to me while in the shower, when I tucked him into bed I actually had to tell him to draw breath and stop talking.

He learnt a lot, he likes the guy that is training him, he can’t wait to get paid, and he never wants to eat the food again where he works.

End of day 18.

It is 8.54pm I start work in less than 2hrs, no sleep for me.

Sad my firstborn is growing up so quickly, he looks older in the 3 and a half hours since I saw him last.

(feature photo, my first born devouring everything in the fridge after first day at work, which was actually three and a half hours)

Getting to work like a lady

Worked today. Being conscious of my skinny fat situation, I parked in the furthest car park from the office that I have access to (so NOT me, I usually seek out the car park closest to the door – hence skinny fat). Dressed in my work uniform of synthetic top, charcoal tailored knee length skirt that is lined, $13 a pair stockings that make anyone’s legs look like a supermodels and my high heel work shoes, I set off on the walk from the car park to the office. Summer is making it self-known the last few days and today is no different. I pace across the car park at a speed faster than usual – because it’s hot and I want air-con and a coffee. Get to the base of the first hill and already my shirt is sticking to my back and the stockings are making themselves known.
There is a couple of nurses in front of me taking up the whole path and I don’t know if it’s the heat or that they are in no hurry, but they couldn’t walk any slower if they tried. I can’t go around cause there is more people coming in the other direction and we will not all fit. Getting annoyed with the two slow pokes, I go to step on to the road and overtake them, just as a lights and sirens Ambulance comes flying around the corner. That was a nice wake up call at 8.30am. Slow poke 1 and 2 finally go left as I go right, buy now my makeup is feeling less glamorous than when I left the house and my shirt is sweaty and gross. I take another path that has gorgeous native gardens along the left hand side and a grove of gum trees to walk under. Thank god for the trees and their shade. While I am enjoying a short reprieve from the sun and the heat, I get swooped by a bloody magpie, TWICE. If any of the patients would have looked outside of their windows, they would have laughed their asses off at the crazy lady waving her handbag above her head to get rid of the freaking birds. I mean honestly how hard is it to get to work today!
Just before I cross the road to walk into the building and after the slow pokes up the hill, nearly walking in front of an ambulance and getting swooped by a magpie TWICE, a blue tongue lizard runs across the path in front of me, nearly toppling me over on my high heels in fright. Seriously get me inside the safety of this building. Of course on one of the two days that I work, there is a maintenance crew working on the lifts that deliver me directly outside my office door. I smile at the security lady outside the lift and point, she smiles back and points to the other end of the hospital and says “Sorry Melinda, you will need to take the other ones and then walk back to this end of the hospital”. Oh for god sakes. I turn down a staff entrance and start the climb of 3 flights of stairs in my high heels. When I eventually reach the tea room, I am ready to rip off my sweaty, disgusting shirt, the lining of my skirt is sticking to my now sweaty and uncomfortable stockings that feel like they are suffocating my legs, and high heels are not what you wear when trying to add an extra 3000 steps to your day.
I was extremely tempted this afternoon when I left work, to try and find my inner drunk girl at the races and rip off my stockings and high heels and walk bare feet to the car, taking an alternate route than this morning. Thought better of it though and toughed it out, like a lady.

Brazilian

Announcing my arrival I am asked to have a seat. Abbie my stunning beautician with model looks, perfectly styled hair and dressed in her pristine black uniform, greets me and directs me to the beauty room. She opens the door and I am engulfed with the most refreshing yet soothing fragrance. I have no idea what it is, I make a mental note to ask her, when I am not feeling so nervous. “Fabulous” she says, “ok strip down so everything is off your bottom half, there is a box of wipes for you to freshen up, lay down on the table, place the towel over you and I’ll be back”. With an elegant turn she is gone. I am left standing in the middle of this refreshingly, soothing fragranced room, stunned into silence. I knew that I would have to bare all, but hadn’t given it much thought until now and the wipes, oh dear lord how embarrassing. I do as I am instructed and lay on the beauty bed, contemplating how ridiculous I would look if I left this minute. Abbie glides back into the room in all of her stunning beauty. Checks a pot sitting on bench which I assume is the wax, comes over and whips the towel off, claps her hands and says “great let’s start, spread your legs and we will get rid of all this hair”. Oh. I. want. to. die. Me the woman who can count on one hand, how many people have been between my thighs! One husband, one obstetrician that I had for both boys, and one gp, who has done all my pap smears and know Abbie the beautiful beautician. “So have you had a Brazilian before?” “Yes, but never waxed”. “Oh” she says as she scrunches up her face “it always hurts the first time but after that you’ll be fine”. Fantastic. Abbie walks over twirling what looks like a  large paddle pop stick with pink wax on it. She applies the molten wax and it actually feels quiet pleasant and warm. I try to concentrate on the very white ceiling, while forcing myself to keep my legs open. Abbie is professional in her job, she lulls me into a false sense of security with her happy chatting. She rips the now hardened wax with hundreds of hairs attached, from the follicle on my vagina, I feel myself launch off the bed and I think that I may have also screeched “fuck”. She smiles and walks back over to the wax pot. I have decided Abbie the beautiful beautician, is fucking evil. Abbie continues her chatter, I continue to have to talk myself out of punching her in the vagina. This is after she informs me, that she has only ever had one Brazilian in Beauty College because they hurt too much.

At one point near the end of this ridiculousness, she swipes one very large patch of molten hell from top to bottom of my poor red, but now hairless lady parts. I actually start giggling uncontrollably with the thought that she has to rip that fucker off. She must be able to tell that by now I am in shock, because mid-giggle. Rip. Yep the beautiful evil beautician rips the wax off. I think my skin is on fucking fire. Then to my absolute horror, she pulls out a pair of tweezers. She assures me that we are nearly done and that she wants to make sure that I am completely hair free. I am now grunting in response. As my eyes burn holes in the ceiling, my cheeks also flame red at the mortification of this experience, my lady parts are sensitive and throbbing.

Abbie comes over places a large, heated towel over me tells me that we are done and she will meet me out at the counter to pay. While I stand, at the counter paying an obscene amount of money to have my vajajay put through hell. I am cursing myself for wearing my pretty lace knickers that are now scratching my poor abused vagina, I have an overwhelming wish to go commando. I don’t register until I am in the car that Abbie the beautiful beautician, has booked me for a follow up Brazilian in one month. I will be cancelling and I do not care what the fragrance in the room was. I will associate that smell with beautiful evil beauticians and molten hell.

Twenty-one days

I contemplate our lifestyle as a Fly in– Fly out family and it isn’t about the money. I’m increasingly worried about Scott’s mounting frustration and tension with being away for twenty one days.

Twenty-one nights in a single bed that feels like a piece of concrete. I know he craves, our queen- size bed, with his big strong body curled around mine, holding me tight, not having to wake at 4.30am. No line-up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, his stomach turning at the sight of what is on offer. I can’t wait to sit down and savour a home cooked meal with him.

Twenty-one days of running along the fence line, because the gym overflows with the same people that he lines up for meals with.

Twenty-one times of blowing in the breathalyser, despite having no access to alcohol.

Twenty-one days a month 600kms away, to support us. Transported by a car, plane and bus to get to the 400- man camp that he stays in. The compound could be mistaken for a jail. I know that after a long and detailed process, the gas that is being extracted is only used for domestic use. To top it off, working in 50 degree heat and minus zero temperatures.

In this next swing, I will not spend Easter with my husband, he will miss our oldest boy’s cricket grand final and our youngest boy’s school recital.

The screen is black, the ring tone bleeps as I anxiously wait for Scott to hit connect. I mean, how ridiculous that I am anxious, he is my husband.

As FaceTime connects I see the green eyes and scruff that details a strong jaw. His face beams at me and I know that my face has an equally blinding smile; my eyes sparkle with tears I will not shed. “Hey beautiful, no crying,” he says. Oh god, my heart melts seeing his face and hearing his voice at the same time.

“Hi babe, so I need to interview you on fifo!”

“Yes dear, what do you want to know?” Scott sighs, sounding exasperated. He loathes talking about work and being away. Preferring to spend our time together hearing about home.

“Babe, before we start on this interview let me have a quick chat to the boys.” As I listen to Scott laugh and talk to our boys about school and cricket. I am eternally grateful for modern technology. Jack sits at our much- loved kitchen table, with his dad on FaceTime working through Year 8 maths homework.

Toms laughs as he talks to Scott. “Yes, mum’s doing the dishes!”

“I wish I was doing the dishes with you babe,” Scott yells through the computer screen. The dishes have always been our time at the end of the day to chat and catch up. Now text messages, phone calls and FaceTime are our way of catching up.

I grab the laptop and make my way to our bedroom, so we can chat without interference from the boys.

“So what do you hate about fifo?”

“Seriously, that’s your question?” His unconscious movement of running his hand over his short back and side’s haircut signalling signals his pent- up frustration. “You know the answer to that. It’s fucking shit.” Beautiful green eyes hardening, jaw tense and eyebrows drawn in so far they nearly touch. “It pisses me off that I don’t get to come home to you and the boy’s every day. I want to be home for Easter.” Swipes his hair again. “I am here working my ass off, dealing with idiots that couldn’t organise a piss- –up in a brewery. Working on a public holiday with no penalty rates. After twenty one days I hate the ass holes I work and live with. I did five hundred squats today. Five hundred times I had to squat down and tie off cable. Because some idiot ordered the wrong equipment and refuses to send it back. It’s bullshit. They want us to work harder and faster, with no additional tools and resources.” I scan over his chest and face as he sits rigid and tense on the single bed, as he swipes his hair.

“We got told, that there has been 9 suicides since Christmas, that’s nine blokes that who killed themselves. Fifo and everything that goes with it did that.” (My stomach sinks and I consider the poor men that got to that point, and the families left behind to deal with that devastation.)

Abandoning the questions I had prepared, we chat and catch up about home. Scott now lounges casually on the single bed and his smile reaches his eyes. It makes me think of last month when I picked him up at the airport.

He crossed the zebra crossing dragging his bag behind him at a furious pace, the backpack used as a carry -on slapped against his back, black cap pulled low down over his green eyes. I could see he had no intention of making eye contact with anyone until he reached me. He made sure to wear the black t-shirt that I love. It shows off just a peek of his tattoos, on the arms I adore. Dressed He was dressed in his low slung jeans that hang off his gorgeous ass perfectly. Scott reached our four- wheel drive that took us camping for that break and wrenched the door open. I just about jumped the seat to get to him, I had missed him the past three weeks.

Bringing me back to our conversation he laughs. “Mel, you need to go babe, I can hear the boys arguing.”

My whole body slouches in sadness, tears slip down my face at having to say goodbye. Scott’s eyes are full of love and with a beaming smile across his face. “Love you, babe,” he declares as he hits end. His image is frozen for a second on the screen while the connection drops out. As I stare at the image, I am the one left feeling frustrated and tense with Fly in and Fly out.